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Saturday, August 22, 2015

Empty nest.....just the two of us.

I could so relate to Jackie's last blog about season's change and an empty nest. When Jim and I started  looking for a home in Raleigh, the main criteria driving our house hunting decisions was, it is now just the two of us. Our youngest will be a Senior at Penn State this year and on her own soon. She has made it very clear, she will be living in Southern California - not anywhere on the East Coast - she says she has had enough snow in Pennsylvania to last her lifetime! Our other two children are settled in Tucson, Arizona and Franklin, Tennessee, so you can see we are in the season of just the two of us back in the U.S.A. The little birds have all left the nest. All of this reminds me of that very upbeat song in the 70's by Grover Washington, "Just the Two of Us", which ends with the lyrics, "just the two of us building castles in the sky." So that I don't get sad, I'm going to focus on this new season of castles!  As we searched, "the castles" in Raleigh all seemed far too large for just Jim and I. We have grown accustomed to small cottages and fallen in love with less work inside the cottage and having more time to be in our garden and the biggest bonus - more free time!

I'm laughing as I'm writing more free time, because we've moved in and every day is chockablock with lists, projects, follow through, dreams and more dreams......some days dreaming of just sitting in the garden and relishing the flowers, the shade from the Oaks and watching the birds and squirrels playing. That is quite a ways away; lots to do inside and out.

Our house is is what the say here, a two up, two down - I didn't understand that at first - maybe you do. It means two rooms on either side of the staircase downstairs and upstairs. So, when you walk in to our entry hall, the staircase rises and on one side is a long living room, on the other side of the staircase is the kitchen, pantry and dining room. Both sides are equivalent in size. Then when you go upstairs, it is the same scenario. Over the living room is the master bedroom and bathroom. Over the kitchen, pantry, and dining room are two bedrooms and a shared bathroom.

 When I googled two up/two down in architecture it was interesting that the third story was from the UK, where they call it a Terrace House. The fourth listing on google was another story from the UK a two up/two down that the National Trust is trying to purchase. The article and pictures were fascinating with the creativity by Kenyan poet, artist and writer Khadambi Asalache, who made his common floor plan come alive in the British Colonial emphasis.

From that wonderful historic inspiration to our simple two up/two down back in Raleigh! Remember the gate I found on Craig's List? Here it is again, and first on our list of "to do" is to place it between these two hedges as the entrance to the brick walk way leading to the front door.

 I wanted to show you the property from the front where we hope to put the beautiful iron gate we found.

 Please come on up the brick walk you walk up, you'll begin to see the list of to do's grow....ugh....brick needs to be cleaned, coral door needs to be painted, whole house needs to be painted!

 Welcome to our empty nest and right now it is truly empty as we will be beginning demolition soon. Have you ever seen anyone paint their front door to match their brick and their hanging lantern too? Add the lantern to the list to get stripped! Come on in...welcome.......

 Here are some pictures of the inside before we get to work on the electrical, plumbing and demolition. This hopefully gives you the sense of the simple floor plan and the 'good bones'! I've always loved that saying. The first time I heard it was in England, but since returning, I hear people say it in the South too. I was just reading an article in House Beautiful and "good bones" was used in an article in the first sentence because the people who's home it was could see the potential when they first bought it. Jim and I felt the same way about our home. The "good bones" we saw were the higher ceilings, wood floors, staircase and crowning.


 Adding to the list, the carpet needs to come off and the wood stairs will need to be refinished....the list just keeps getting longer and longer!
 This is the living room fireplace. For some reason the previous owner painted chalkboard paint in the cubicle shelving units (?), so we will have some painting to do throughout the inside of the house too. Jim and I both love how bright the house is with a lot of large scale windows and French doors and the wood floors are throughout the entire house - bonus!!!

 This is the view from the living room to the dining room and the entry in between. This gives a good feeling of the "two up - two down" name for the style of the layout.
 Adding to my list, paint over the University of North Carolina light blue walls! The previous owner played basketball for UNC on the NCAA championship team, so North Carolina blue is on the walls upstairs and down!
 I love these large windows at the top of the stairs looking out to the arms of the oak tree in our back yard.
 This photo is from our first visit when we were contemplating purchasing the house, so that is why you now are seeing it furnished. Don't mean to confuse you, but I wanted you to see the pretty view down the stairs.
 This is the downstairs bathroom, that sadly on the list the marble floor is coming out. We need to do all the plumbing throughout the house, so we have to break up this floor. Heartbreaking. I love anything old and have tried to think how we could safely take each tile out, but it can't be.
 This is our little kitchen on the back of the house. It is sweet, but the list is endless for this room. But there is so much potential to enlarge the kitchen by opening the wall you see in the forefront of this picture.
 Upstairs master bathroom, list begins in this room with everything coming out and behind the tub wall is a closet, so we will break that wall down and enlarge the room....the list keeps I'm going through these pictures with you, all I'm seeing besides the list is $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ signs!

Work has begun and even though it is all the dirty work that is necessary, Jackie and I can't help thinking about the interiors. It was like Christmas for me when a box arrived from Jackie with some wonderful inspiration in fabrics and wallpapers. She found a beautiful Ralph Lauren Sahara Weave - Straw from the Serengeti Textures Wallpaper Book that we are going to use in the guest bathroom downstairs. She also helped select a fabric from her Indiennes collection that she has in her stores, called Valerie. We are going to use it for window treatment and a skirting/curtain under the sink. I can't wait to show you our plan for this bathroom.....and it begins with an old bed!

This is the box of all the gorgeous ideas in fabrics, furniture and wallpaper that Jackie mailed to us. The picture below is the wallpaper she found. I love it!

And this is the bed, another great find on Craig's List. An old twin (even skinnier!) bed frame that we are designing to be be the counter and mirror for the small guest bathroom with the marble floors that are going to be demolished. Can't wait to show you our ideas on this bathroom and how it will all come together! Come back to see what we do!!!

Be sure and visit Jackie's stores and the FMFCompagnie site and see all the new inventory. I have always loved blue and white and I'm crazy about so many of the accessories she showed in her last blog. She has gotten in so many new wonderful items.

Well, it's Friday p.m. and it is "just the two of us" working this's messy, demo started, so we are on clean up duty Saturday and Sunday! You can bet by Sunday night, I'll be dreaming of just sitting in the garden in a year sipping something cool! Hopefully, our castle in the sky will be done by then.................have a great weekend everyone!

Beth and Jackie